Situated in the Southeastern most corner of Middle Tennessee at the foot of the Cumberland Plateau, you will find the small town of Winchester Tennessee. 90 minutes from Nashville, Franklin County and its county seat Winchester offer an escape for outdoor enthusiasts, history buffs, anglers, and the rest of the family too! Tims Ford Lake brings travelers from across the region to Winchester, but this city offers a lot more than that. Check out these awesome things to do in and around Winchester, Tennessee.
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Tims Ford State Park
Hiking and Biking
With over 7 miles of paved trail and 16 miles of beautiful out and back trail along the shoreline, Tims Ford State Park is an excellent retreat for hikers and bikers alike. My favorite trail is the Lost Creek Overlook. This trail is 2.5 miles and crosses a couple of swinging bridges. You can return on the 1.1 mile Marble Plains paved trail; its smooth path makes for a nice cool down after walking the shoreline.
The park has a 52 site campground that can accommodate RV’s up to 40 ft and tent campers. The campsites are limited to 6 people per site, and one RV and one tent, or two tents per site. As an added bonus, with a permit from the ranger station, you can kayak and camp on one of six islands on Tims Ford Lake. This unique option is one of my favorite ways to spend a Summer night.
In the summer (usually between Memorial Day and Labor Day) the park operates a Olympic size swimming pool. Lifeguards are on duty during hours of operation: 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM on Saturday and Sundays. Admission is $4 and $2 for cabin and campground guests. Season passes are available for $80. The L-shaped pool features a 12-foot diving pool and a children’s wading pool.
It would be hard to not mention the appeal of Tims Ford Lake. This 10,000 acre reservoir was made when the Elk River was dammed. It is a great lake for water sports like skiing and tubing. You can also rent a pontoon boat, a kayak, or a canoe from Lake View Marina and just spend the day on the lake! The marina also includes a snack bar, bait shop and fish-cleaning area. Lake View Marina hours are seasonal and they are closed in December, January and February. Contact them at (931)-967-6711 for more information.
Tims Ford Lake is an excellent spot to fish for Large mouth, Spotted and Small mouth Bass. The lake is also stocked annually with Striped and Hybrid Striped Bass. Striped Bass often exceed 15 lbs and hybrids are usually around 7 pounds (Catching fish this size is a lot of fun!). If lake fishing isn’t your thing, you can fish on Elk River below the dam (when it isn’t generating). There are lots of Brown and Rainbow Trout in the river. Be sure you have appropriate licensing for whatever type of fishing you are doing.
Spot birds such as Indigo Bunting, Song and Field Sparrow in the meadow areas beside the park road. Hear the call of barred owls and maybe spot one on the Spann House trail. If you take the Ray Branch Shoreline loop along the shoreline you will likely see herons and maybe even a bald eagle.
Visit the Historic Square
Winchester Tennessee is built around its historic square. In the center of the square is the Art Deco style court house, and it is surrounded by shops, restaurants, and small businesses. Spend a few hours walking around visiting the square. Have some coffee at San Miguel’s Coffee Company, check out the neat stuff Whiffenpoofs Vintage has for sale, or maybe stop by Roots and Wings Yoga for a beginner’s class. There is a lot to see on the square, so be sure to add it to your itinerary.
Winchester Speedway was originally built as a Horse Racing track on the Winchester Tennessee Fairgrounds and converted to a stock car racing track in 1957. It has been thrilling the folks of Winchester on Saturday nights every since. The 1/4 mile dirt track features Super Late Models, 2 Barrel Late Models, Modified Stocks, Street Stocks, Mini Stocks and Vintage Dwarfs competing at one of the finest dirt tracks around. Admission is usually (Special events may be more) $12 for Grand Stands and Pit Admission is $30, Kids 12 and under are free. Bring ear plugs, because it gets loud!
Bear Trace at Tims Ford – Designed by golf legend Jack Nicklaus, this course is located in Tims Ford State Park and is part of the Tennessee Golf Trail. Situated on a peninsula and surrounded by the Tims Ford Lake this course is absolutely beautiful. It has received glowing reviews from national publications. For information and Tee Times call 931-968-0996.
Scenic View – Scenic Veiw Golf Course is a 12 hole 46 par golf course located on Highway 127 on the outskirts of Winchester Tennessee. This mature course is appropriate for golfers of all skill levels. The course has a reputation of being challenging but fair. There are monthly tournaments designed to allow course regulars to meet and play with golfers from the community. For information and Tee times call 931-967-5224.
With these 2 courses located in Winchester, and many more located nearby, this is an excellent city for golfers to visit.
Old Jail Museum
Located in walking distance to the Square and Downtown Winchester, the Old Jail Museum houses a diverse collection including civil war artifacts, Native American artifacts, memorabilia from Winchester’s local celebrity Dinah Shore, and other historic items. The building was once Franklin County’s jail. When a modern jail was built in 1972, it was decided that it should be preserved as a museum. One cell was kept intact as a reminder at how grim being in jail could be at the time. Also on display are police equipment from the past including leg irons and hand cuffs. This museum is interesting and admission is cheap. Hours are seasonal, so call ahead to (931)-967-0524 to make sure they are open.
Cowan Railroad Museum
Located minutes from Winchester in the neighboring town of Cowan, is the Cowan Railroad Museum. The railroad was (and is) a huge part of the local economy. The museum has approximately 1000 historic railroad artifacts on exhibit. They are mostly related to the railroad in and around Cowan. There are displays of figures in period costumes, photographs, tools, documents, old maps and out-of-print railroad books. There is also a small gift shop where you can purchase engineers caps, railroad oriented t-shirts, stickers, buttons, collectible RR patches, books and much more. See the artifacts page for some pictures and descriptions. This museum helps capture some of the remarkable history that shaped the area. The hours are seasonal, check their website for the latest information.
Hundred Oaks Castle
Construction on Hundred Oaks Castle began in 1830 as a plantation farm house. The property was purchased in the 1860’s by Albert Marks, the 21st governor of Tennessee. His son Arthur traveled abroad as a diplomat and met and married Mary Hunt in Scotland where Arthur fell in love with castle architecture. In 1889, they returned to Winchester and began of renovating the home into a sprawling work of art. The castle was operated as a monastery for over fifty years. It later served as an Adult Activity Center for individuals with developmental disabilities. In 1990 the castle was severely damaged by fire. In 1997 restoration by the non-profit Kent Bramlett Foundation began. Today, tours of this beautiful place are available by reservation for groups of 20 or more. It is a remarkable building, and if you can get a large enough group together for the tour it’s absolutely worth visiting.
Located about 15 minutes from Winchester, in Belvidere, TN is Falls Mill. The Mill was built in 1873 as a Cotton and Woolen factory, and it was later converted to a cotton gin, a wood working shop, and a grist mill. This mill has been transformed many times over. Now it serves as home to Museum of Power and Industry, Inc. The 32 foot water wheel still powers equipment on four levels of the building. The museum houses antique manufacturing equipment including mill stones, broom making equipment, looms, and spinning wheels. If you have any interest in early manufacturing the museum is a must see. If you don’t the grounds are still beautiful and absolutely worth the visit. Seasonal hours are posted on the website.
Watch a Movie
Established in 1950, you won’t find a multiplex here. Instead at the Oldham Theater, you can see first run movies in a high tech theater, surrounded by the atmosphere of a bygone era. The marquee announces the two movies that are showing during the week in red letters surrounded by glowing neon lights. It’s hard not to get excited about seeing a movie here. Admission for night shows is only $7 for adults; matinees are $6.
Montana Drive In
Another Retro-Theater option is located in Estill Springs, just a short drive from Winchester. The Montana Drive In is a three screen drive in theater with double features on each screen. Along with the awesome experience of going to a drive in movie, the concessions at the theater are great. Fresh hamburgers, hand dipped chicken tenders, pizza, broasted chicken on weekends, funnel cakes along with theater standards like popcorn and candy are all available. Admission is $7 for adults and the movies start at dark. Visit their website for more information.
Winchester Tennessee’s Best Eats
Bluegill Grill – Located at the Holiday Landing Marina and open during the Summer, Bluegill Grill is the place to get seafood in Winchester Tennessee. Connected to land by a single ramp, the grill floats at the center of our cove on Tims Ford Lake. This is a great setting for a summer dinner.
Holt’s Diner – Newly opened in Winchester, Holt’s Diner is a 50’s style diner. They specialize in handmade burgers and milkshakes. Eat in or call ahead and pick it up at the window.
John T’s BBQ – Located on Winchester’s Historic Square, John T’s BBQ is not to be missed. They are serious about their BBQ, and, it’s all smoked on the premises. Add some hoecakes, fried pickles and white beans and you are all set. The food is just the beginning though. The interior is decorated in vintage items including signs, newspapers from the area, and just about anything else you can think of.
Reggie’s Catfish and Chicken – Another great spot on the square, Reggie’s specializes in Catfish and Chicken. My favorite thing there is the Catfish Tacos. They are serious about good food. I can’t wait to go back and try the rest of the menu!
Bennett’s Pharmacy – Bennett’s is a pharmacy first, but they also have a old time soda fountain, and serve sandwiches, ice cream, and milk shakes. You have not been to Winchester Tennessee until you go to Bennett’s and have a Bloody Marty. You can do a little shopping while you are there too. They carry Vera Bradley bags and accessories, Willow Tree, Tyler Candles, and many other popular gift items.
Winchester Tennessee is a small town, but it is packed with things to do if you do a little exploring. If you run out of things to do in Winchester, check out its neighbors: Tullahoma, Sewanee, and Manchester.
What are your favorite places in Winchester? Let us know in the comments.